Guide to Medical Negligence
Our medical negligence experts have written a guide to medical negligence claims to help explain the process involved in a medical negligence claim.
Do I have a claim for medical negligence?
If you have suffered an injury as a result of what you believe was negligent treatment then please talk to us and we can advise you on whether we believe you may have a claim.
What is involved in a legal case?
The first step is to contact our expert medical negligence solicitors.
After a chat with one of our Medical Negligence Solicitors, we will advise you as regards the next steps which will include obtaining a detailed statement from you and taking up a copy of your medical records. Once we have obtained and reviewed your medical records for you, we will advise you about the expert evidence which will be needed in order to investigate whether you have grounds to pursue a claim.
The medical experts who we instruct will give their opinion on whether you were negligently treated and whether any negligence arising caused you to suffer an injury. If we receive supportive expert evidence confirming that your injuries have been negligently caused then we will be in a position to issue proceedings on your behalf.
In order to proceed with a case for medical negligence, we will need to issue proceedings in Court. It is important that there is no delay in investigating a case and issuing proceedings so as to ensure that the Statute of Limitations does not expire, resulting in your claim becoming statute barred.
How much time do I have to issue proceedings?
In most cases you have two years within which to issue proceedings.
Time starts to run from the date of the injury or the date you become aware of the injury or negligence. There are exceptions to this rule where the injured party is a minor or whether the person is mentally impaired or incapable of making a claim.
It is not advisable to delay in speaking to a solicitor who specialises in medical negligence, even if it involves a minor or someone who is mentally impaired or incapable of pursuing a case as a delay could make it difficult to gather the necessary documentation or obtain all relevant statements. Crucial witnesses could die and the defendant could try and have the case struck out as a result of the delay in prosecuting the case.
What sort of compensation will I receive?
If you have suffered an injury because of medical negligence, then you may be entitled to compensation. In legal terms, this is called damages.
There are two kinds of damages:
- General damages – these damages are awarded to compensate you for the pain and suffering, to date and into the future, which you have endured as a result of your injuries.
- Special damages – these damages are awarded to compensate you for any out of pocket expenses which you have already incurred or which you are likely to incur in the future as a direct result of your injuries. This can include loss of earnings, nursing care, housing adaption costs, aids and appliances, physiotherapy and occupational therapy, any other rehabilitation, and travel or other miscellaneous expenses.
Catastrophically injured patients generally receive the highest awards or settlements because future medical care or medical aids are frequently required for many years into the future. Actuarial evidence is obtained so as to specifically quantify costs of this nature.
Will I have to go to Court?
Most cases settle before getting as far as a trial. We frequently engage in mediation or settlement negotiations so as to settle the dispute before going to Court. This may happen at any stage during the case.
How long will it take for my case to be finished?
Most cases get to trial within 18-24 months of proceedings having been issued. We try and push cases to a successful conclusion as quickly as possible as we know how anxious clients can be in trying to finalise a case.
How do I know if your firm is any good?
Medical negligence is a complex area of law. We have acted for clients who have been affected because of medical negligence for over 20 years.
We understand how difficult and upsetting it can be for clients to speak about their loss or their injuries and we offer support and professional advice in a compassionate way.
Our medical negligence team was named Medical Negligence Law Team of the year at the Irish Law Awards 2019.
We believe that we are the best medical negligence lawyers for many reasons, including:
- We leave no stone unturned in our investigations;
- We seek answers and apologies from hospitals/medical professionals;
- We advise not only in relation to civil actions and inquests, but also in relation to internal/external hospital investigations;
- We provide accurate and timely advice and endeavour to ensure that our clients focus is on recovery/dealing with grief and not on the stress of litigation;
- We instruct leading medical experts throughout the world to advise and assist in relation to medical negligence actions;
- We deal with our clients in a compassionate and professional manner;
- We strive to make the Irish health system a better place for all, so that errors of the past are not repeated.
- We have a 100% success rate and have never lost a case.
Reasons for taking legal action
Injured patients most often take medical negligence cases to ensure that other patients are not treated in a similar fashion. Cases are also taken to ensure financial provision for future medical care or loss of earnings.
You may have received an apology or other admission from a doctor or hospital but to recover damages, you will still need to fully investigate the standard of care afforded to you before taking a legal case. You need to be able to prove that the standard of care afforded to you was unacceptable and that you suffered an injury as a result.
Hospital complaints procedures
If you or a family member are dissatisfied with the standard of care afforded to you whilst a patient in Hospital, then you are entitled to make a complaint to the hospital directly. If the Hospital is operated by the HSE then further information regarding their complaints’ procedure can be found by visiting: www.hse.ie/eng/about/qavd/complaints/
There is also an option of making a complaint to the Irish Medical Council, which is the regulatory body for doctors. It has a statutory role in protecting the public by promoting the highest possible standards amongst doctors practising in Ireland.
Types of Medical Negligence Claims
Brain Injury Claims
Brain injuries can have a devastating effect on an individual and their family, particularly if the injuries are as a result of medical negligence. Brain injuries can be catastrophic and result in traumatic and life-changing injuries.
Stroke Misdiagnosis Claims
A stroke can occur when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off or reduced, preventing the brain tissue getting the oxygen it needs. Strokes are a medical emergency and urgent treatment is essential.
Birth Injury to Mother Claims
Unfortunately, when something goes wrong or where negligence occurs, before, during or after childbirth, it can result in very serious physical and psychological injuries.
Birth Injury to Baby Claims
Stillbirth & Neonatal Death Claims
Gynaecologists are doctors who specialise in investigating, diagnosing, and treating disorders of the female reproductive system.
Misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor or medical professional fails to accurately diagnose a patient. It can arise when there has been a incorrect or delayed diagnosis of a medical condition such as cancer, meningitis, diabetes, heart disease or head injuries.
A&E Negligence Claims
A&E departments deal with many different types of medical emergencies. These departments are highly pressurised and emergency care can sometimes go wrong and cause serious injury to the patient. Accident and emergency claims can arise where negligent delay or incorrect medical treatment results in the patient suffering from illness or injury, which would not have occurred but for the negligent care.
Dental Negligence Claims
If your dentist has made a mistake or an error whilst treating or diagnosing a dental issue then you may have a claim for dental negligence.
Cauda Equina Claims
Cauda Equina Syndrome is a medical emergency and needs to be treated urgently to avoid long-term irreparable neurological damage. If your doctor has failed to recognise the symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome and failed to refer you for emergency treatment, then it is possible that you have a claim for medical negligence.
Surgical Injury Claims
Surgical negligence claims arise when mistakes occur during surgery which result in the patient being injured.
Spinal Injury Claims
Defective Medical Device Claims
Despite strict standards and rigorous testing of medical devices, sometimes products are defective and can cause serious personal injury. This may require a patient having to undergo further surgery to remove and replace the defective medical device.
Nursing Home Claims
Some of the most vulnerable in society reside in care homes and nursing homes and whilst most people who reside there receive an excellent level of care. There are exceptions, however, where failings in care by the staff who are responsible for caring for the vulnerable and elderly results in poor care and medical treatment which leads to injury and can tragically lead to death. This can result in a claim for medical negligence.
Covid 19 Claims
If you have suffered from unnecessary illness or harm because of a delay in accessing the required medical care, then you may have a claim for medical negligence.
GP’s play an important role in ensuring that patients are assessed appropriately, prescribed the correct treatment, and referred on for specialist care without delay.
If a GP makes a mistake which causes a patient to suffer unnecessary pain and financial loss, it may be possible to pursue a claim for medical negligence.